The Power of Reflection

In the past few weeks I’ve been revisiting classrooms that I visited in the fall. I’ve been observing and chatting with teachers about the progress they felt that they have made toward the goals they set for themselves this year. I’ve been blown away by what I have seen. What I’ve been impressed with is how honest in their reflection these teachers have been. It would be easy for these teachers to let reflection fall the wayside. Every teacher that I work with has helium hands – when volunteers are asked for their hands magically rise into the air. So …

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Everyone learns like me…right?

A few months back I was chatting with a friend of mine about a survey I sent out. This friend is in sales, and a poster child extrovert. I was thrilled that I already had responses to my survey. He mentioned that he never takes surveys. That to ask him to sit still and focus on answering questions was a deal breaker. Call him, talk to him – he will respond all day, but forget taking a survey. It was a brief conversation, but it really got me thinking. I love surveys. I don’t have to talk to anyone. I …

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Relationships have to be built at home? {forehead slap}

In this post I’m going to jump way out of my comfort zone, and share some personal life. I’ve tossed this idea for a while – it is practically impossible for me to compartmentalize my life – I am wife, mother, and educator. In my first post I said that it would run the gamut, and it is time to follow through. Things at work influence me at home, and vice versa. If my goal is to find joy, I can’t just look for that at work. After some extremely thought provoking events at home in the past few weeks, …

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Why Should I Be Here? Reflections on a Successful Staff Development

Last week I shared thoughts about a staff development that I bombed. I hadn’t put forth the thoughtfulness that was needed to offer a vastly different staff development, and the results were not what I had hoped. This week I had an extremely different experience. Our department works with this amazing group of teachers called the Vanguard Fellowship (vanguard.springbranchisd.com). These educators,chosen through an application process, are committed to learning about and developing strategies to reach every child, and to sharing their journeys with their peers locally and globally. We are entering the third year of this program, and have offered …

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Why Should I be Here? Reflections on a Terrible Staff Development

In an odd twist of academic calendar fate, our district had an early winter break this year, and our first day back was January 2nd. Kindly, it was a staff development day, but with a twist this year; different departments were asked to deliver sessions. The EdTech department fanned out around the district offering sessions centered on our LMS platform. I had the brilliant idea of offering a session that would take user pain points, and help them see how to solve the challenges, and move into a more comfortable space. I thought that it was brilliant, but as I …

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Habitually Creating Goals and then Habitually Breaking Them

I know, I know. Everyone and their mother’s cute Christmas puppy is posting on goal setting and resolutions right now. Forgive me as I throw in my two cents also. Truly though, this post is about systems, so basically it is a science lesson. I also promise that I won’t ask you to share your resolution! So it might be worth the read. During the month of December the Innovative Teaching Academy focus was on habits. (This is an online course offered by A.J. Juliani that I’ve been taking and the impetus behind this blog.) Before delving into the subject, I …

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Guest Blog: How to be Amazing at Tearing Down Classroom Walls and Other Great Tips

How to be Amazing at Tearing Down Classroom Walls Using Google Classroom And Other Great Tips By June Weissman This year I am piloting an adventure in empowering students.  I am breaking down classroom walls to make learning engaging, personally meaningful, and relevant.  Third to fifth grade students across my gifted and talented program in Wyckoff, New Jersey chose one of seven different academies I created on Google Classroom: Oh Say Can You See (vision), EEK! Venomous Animals, The Fantastic Art of Marc Chagall, The Weird World Below Water, Boomerang! The History of Australia’s Aboriginal Peoples, Jupiter’s Amazing Aurora, and …

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I got my permission slip signed!

Educators have a bad habit of never taking a break. Breaks are naturally built into our days and weeks and months, but are rarely taken. Lunches are eaten while grading, evenings are spent searching for fabulous ways to engage students, weekends are spent grading, holidays are spent searching for fabulous ways to engage students, and on and on. Mr. Weiss still talks about how much time he gained when I left the classroom because I wasn’t handing him things to grade every night. Educators out of the classroom don’t lose their bad habit of never taking a break, and sometimes …

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Observing Without Judging

I’ve been in a coaching role for a few years now, and far from thinking that I have it down, I realize that there is much that I still have to learn. I love coaching. I love researching new ideas, I love collaborating, I love helping solve problems. I love being bossy, which is my coaching downfall. A good coach is not supposed to be bossy. Worse than being bossy though, I’ve begun to see myself as a bit on the wrong side of the judgmental line. I don’t walk into classrooms thinking that I can do it better. I’m …

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It’s all about Relationships

We are three posts in, so I think it is time for true confessions. I’m a bad teacher. You can gasp and put your hand over your mouth if you like, but it’s true. As I learn more and more, and continue to work on growing up, I have noticed that I am actually bad at relationships. I don’t pay close enough attention. I’ve got a mind that is always moving forward to the next thing and the next thing and the next thing. I’m trying to make connections and solve problems and whatnot. I’m not present. Visiting a classroom …

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